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A mint julep | © Reese Lloyd / Flickr
A mint julep | © Reese Lloyd / Flickr

This Classic Mint Julep Is All You Need For Derby Day

Picture of Kathryn Maier
NYC Food & Drink Editor
Updated: 5 May 2017
The Kentucky Derby is coming up this Saturday. Here’s how to make the race’s official drink.

The mint julep is nearly synonymous with the Derby. At Churchill Downs, home to the famous horse race, nearly 120,000 mint juleps are served during Derby weekend’s two days, going through more than 10,000 bottles of bourbon, 1,000 pounds of mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice.

Bourbon-centric in honor of the state in which the race is held (and for which, of course, it’s named), and refreshing enough for a warm late-spring day, the mint julep is an iconic American cocktail that’s been perfected over the decades. There are plenty of different variations on the cocktail out there, but really, all you need is the classic version, simple and easy to make—and drink.

The Classic Mint Julep
Make a simple syrup by simmering equal parts sugar and water together for five minutes, and let cool.
Place six to eight mint leaves in a silver julep cup or rocks glass and muddle gently—do not crush.
Fill the julep cup or glass with crushed ice.
Pour two ounces of bourbon and a half-ounce of simple syrup over the ice.
Stir briskly until the glass frosts.
Add more crushed ice to form a dome, and a mint sprig for garnish.